Around Auckland


Like many tourists, we started our New Zealand holiday in Auckland. And to be honest, our first impression  wasn't a very good one. The shuttle bus from the airport to the city centre took us through lots and lots of Auckland's suburbs (which aren't particularly beautiful). It was raining, it was cold ... and we couldn't even see the Sky Tower because of the mist.

 Sky Tower in the mist

After a few hours sleep, we got out of our hotel again. The rain had cleared, we were no longer in uninteresting suburbs. We started to like New Zealand, and wanted to see more more more.

Christmas decorations

For us Europeans, it's strange to see Christmas decorations in summer. And the kiwi's make it even worse. When you arrive in New Zealand in the first week of January, they will welcome you for Christmas. Don't they know Christmas is in December ???

View from Mount Eden

A lot of European cities are built on 7 hills, Rome, Cagliari, Amman, Funchal, and lots more. Auckland is different, it's built between 7 hills.

One of these hills is Mount Eden. From the hilltops you have a great view over the city. The Sky Tower marks the centre of the city, where you can find lots of shops, bars, restaurant and backpacker accommodation.

Famous immigrant

Land of golden opportunities

The Maritime Museum in Auckland is a must. After all, everybody living here longer than since the 70's or so (including the Maori) came here by boat. Our ideas of the Maori canoes changed very rapidly after viewing these enormous catamarans. And we liked the displays with the immigrant ships: the floor rocks like a boat. Fortunately, they didn't add the original smell as well.
Lights in the harbour

Maximum load 80 tons

Up North we found the Kauri museum. Like the herring museum in Iceland, this museum of only one topic (a tree), appeared to be very interesting.

They have many cool displays, like the collection of chainsaws on the left. The picture below should be a logger from the old days, collecting firewood.

The Kauri Museum Chainsaw Massacre

Mr. Spock on his away mission

Haven't we seen this guy in Star Trek ? You know, the one with the pointy ears ???

After visiting the museum, we did not only know everything about the types of tree, the quality of the wood and the things you can do with Kauri gum (a kind of amber), but also about logging, the way of living of the loggers and about the tools they use.

No shit on your head

At Muriwai beach there is a gannet colony. Every spot of this rock is occupied by a pair of gannets and their young. Although you can come (a little) closer to a gannet colony in Napier, this place has the advantage the tide is not of importance to see the gannets.

In Coromandel we found a nice water garden. Of course, you can find a lot of water and flowers here (preferably combined, like in this pond). There is also a nice waterfall.

The lily pond

Deep thoughts

An extra are the philosophical quotes you can find everywhere in the garden. The white arrows show the path you have to follow to reach enlightenment (or the end of the trail, where the cafeteria is).
The south of Coromandel, near Waihi, is one of the many sites where gold was found. To transport the ore to the battery a train rail was built, including a tunnel through a mountain. The mine is no longer in use, and the track can be used to walk. There are some lights in the tunnel, so a torch is not really necessary. The return trip leads through a nice gorge.

 The light at the end of the tunnel

After the gorge, we start practising all those hard-to-remember Maori place names. At first, we thought almost every name was the same. After a few days, we discovered the differences between names like Waikiti, Waitiki, Waitoki and Waitohi.

Finally, when we found this "Glossary of Maori words, which commonly form part of place names", they started to make sense to us. As you see, it's not as difficult as you might think.

Aka

Bay or inlet

Awa

River or gorge

Awaawa

Valley

Ika

Fish

Iti

Little

Kai

Food (most commonly)

Kaika

Settlement

Maka

Branch stream or tributary

Mauka

Mountain

Moana

Sea or lake

Motu

Island

Nui

Big

O

Of

Pa

Fortified village

Puke

Hill

Raki

The Skyfather of daytime

Roa

Long

Roto

Lake or in, inside

Rua

Two or storage pit

Tapu

Sacred or forbidden

Wai

Water

Whaka

Bay or inlet

Whare

House, building

Whenua

Land, country or placenta